Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Prankster of a Day

DAY 4 MAY 5, 2009

Well, it was quite an interesting morning for me. My sister Rita got up and had a shower at around 8:30, so I decided to stay in bed for a little longer. At 9 am, I finally decided to get up. Before I knew it, everyone came knocking on our door telling us to hurry and that we were leaving soon. I was a tad confused because last night Ron said that we wouldn't have to rush this morning. Well, boy did he ever make me rush. I was not even awake when I walked into the lobby room, still rubbing my eyes and shaking my head. Next thing I know, everyone started laughing at me. Doh! I fell for one of Ron's pranks again!

It was a cool overcast and foggy morning in Amarillo. It would have been much nicer to wake up to a crisp sunny blue sky instead... and warmer temperatures. I don't need this crappy weather here, I can get that at home gosh darn it. Well, we decided to head to the Big Texan again, this time for the two new guests to do some shopping. Out front in the parking lot, we saw two racing cars (one of them being the fastest car in the world apparently) for the Gumball 3000 race across the country. These guys were on their way to California from the eastern US.

Unlike those guys, we were not headed to California but instead down towards Abilene. A triple point and dryline buldge was setting up from Abilene towards Fort Worth. We stopped in Plainview to have a nice bite at IHOP. Ron and Jack decided to fill up the vans with gas while we waited for our food. Meanwhile, I sat at the table with Pam and out of the blue, I must have exploded. I sneezed so hard that the table shook and somehow, some of Pam's drink jumped out of her glass onto the table and started dripping on her foot. Oops did I do that? It's not my fault, I swear! I didn't invent wobbly tables LOL. The guys came back and wondered what we were laughing about. Then Ron, being the prankster that he is, basically said that he is leaving now, and the rest of us can go in the other van and meet him 40 miles to the south. He walked out of the restaurant and hopped in the van. He drove around and disapared for a little bit. He really had the guests and Sandra going LOL! Sure enough, he came back and all of us took off. For real this time.

The skies were starting to open up and let sunlight through. It was getting much warmer compared to the dull weather back in Amarillo, even though we were still north of the warm front boundary. We headed southeast, taking shortcuts to save some time. The SPC issued a moderate risk for central Texas, then at 3:06 pm a mesoscale discussion was put out. SPC had a 10% hatched area for tornadoes. There was just one problem with today's setup. A capping inversion was holding on. At 3:30, we stopped at a Dairy Queen in Crosbyton and sat around there for a bit. The temps and dewpoints were rising. Then we saw some tcu's building off in the distance! Finally! A sign of hope! A tornado watch was issued.

It was getting close to the dinner hour and I was getting anxious. I was keeping tabs on the Baron's radar. A small storm developed near Breckenridge. I watched it for a while, but it became elongated and weakened. I could see some transverse rolls were forming. We headed east to Abilene at around 7 pm to book our motel rooms for the night. While we were in the parking lot, some towers were building along some boundaries, but they were not looking punchy enough. However to our east, there were some healthier looking towers. I looked on radar and saw that another storm developed in the Breckenridge area just as the first storm died. This one was looking much more dominant and became a southeasterly mover. We continued to watch it grow and start to glaciate. I had a strong feeling this would be the only chaseable storm today. Ron and I talked about it, and decided to go after it. It was just a bit more east than our initial target. I rode in the front with the Baron and GR3 running while Jack drove and Ron and Sandra took the other van.

We headed east on I20. According to Spotter Network, there were already a number of chasers on this supercell. Oh jeepers it was about 50 some odd miles away yet, I hope we were not too late! As we were approaching it, we witnessed one of the most beautiful updrafts I've ever seen... the anvil had rings and rock hard knuckles under it and the updraft was punchy!

When we got closer to it, I could tell it was ending its mature stage... the anvil was starting to soften. Oh rat infested son of a.... We finally managed to catch up to the storm, but the base under it looked a bit elevated. We saw what looked like a funnel cloud a couple times, but they just disinigrated instead. According to GR3, this was one heck of a hailer and according to the Baron, there were a few rotation couplets inside the storm.

We ended up in the town of Cisco and about called off the chase since the storm was starting to weaken. It was now getting away so Ron and I decided to take some backside lightning pictures. Another chaser had the same idea, but there was a light post in the foreground which kinda made it hard to get some nice shots. I was hoping for a nice cloud-to-air strike coming out of the backside, but intead the flashes were all in-cloud. I saw some reports that a chaser had damaged their vehicle from 5 inch hailstones! Yikes! We decided to quit and grabbed a bite to eat at Sonic and headed back to Abilene for the night. I guess Ron was not the only one that decided to pull a prank today.

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